Solar energy, once thought to be an investment for the wealthy, is now helping millions of Americans reduce their power bills. People who live in manufactured homes are vulnerable to power outages, particularly if they live in remote areas with no stable electricity supply. The good news is that mobile home owners can now install solar panels for mobile homes and enjoy affordable electricity on the go.
Before you contact solar panel installers, it is essential first to figure out if installing solar panels for mobiles is a great investment choice.
1. Portable home solar panels reduce energy bills
It is cheaper to buy and install solar panels on your home’s roof in many states than continuing to buy electricity from local utility providers for the next two to three decades. This is the estimated life of solar system installations. Portable home solar panels cost as much as other rooftop solar energy installations. This is because there is no special equipment needed, and you can still enjoy the financial savings associated with going solar in the United States.
Suppose you live in a manufactured home in Arizona and use approximately 913 kilowatt-hours, costing $0.13 per kWh every month (from the local utility provider). In this case, you would need a 6.5 kW solar system installation to cover 100% of your yearly energy usage. This is equivalent to about 25 solar panels.
Things are about to get more interesting: suppose you measure your portable home’s roof and realize that you can only install 12 solar panels. In this case, you can cover only 50 percent of your energy needs with solar power. So, will installing solar panel kits to cover 50 percent of your energy usage make economic sense?
Well, 12 solar panels (approximately 3.12 kWh) would generate about 5,299 kWh every year in Arizona. At the current average solar system installation cost of $2.93 per watt, your system would cost about $6,400 after federal tax credits and other solar programs. Assuming that this power system lasts 25 years, it would generate approximately 120,504 kWh during that period.
If you bought that amount of electricity from utility companies over the same period, you would spend about $24,062. That means by covering just half of your energy use, you would save more than $17,500! That’s a good deal for Americans. So, solar panels for mobile homes can reduce your utility bills significantly.
2. You can install solar panels for mobile homes
Most people still believe that they cannot install solar panels for mobile homes. As illustrated above, the issue isn’t about energy use or production. Actually, you can make significant savings on your utility budget by offsetting your energy costs for your mobile home through solar energy kits installation.
Also, don’t worry about the available roof space. It is true that most mobile homes have a smaller roof compared to an average home. However, with the average mobile home being more than 1000 square feet, you no longer need to worry about fitting a row or two of solar panel kits up there. You can successfully save a lot of money by having solar energy kits covering 50 percent of your total energy usage.
Pay attention to your roof.
Remember, your home’s roof should be strong enough to support solar panels and the installation of other necessary equipment like an inverter. A single solar panel weighs about 35 pounds. There are also aluminum rails where the panels sit on, and attachment points bolted to your property’s roof size. Don’t forget the electrical conduits that protect electrical wires running to the breaker box, not to mention the weight of the solar installers while they wander around the roof during panel installation.
That means a 12-panel system adds 420 pounds to the roof space. Now add at least three solar panel installers weighing 170 pounds each, at least two feet of snow during the winter, and the insane winds pulling up or pushing down on the entire home’s roof during a snowstorm. Do you now understand why manufactured home owners need a strong roof structure for their safety and that of the installers?
Keep in mind that a lot goes into ensuring a roof is safe for solar panels. Solar companies and contractors must follow all relevant local building codes. They should also ensure any property’s roof joists are sturdy enough to carry the weight of the entire system.
The installers must analyze the dimensions of the roof joists, the type of wood used to make the joists, and the spacing between toes joists. They should also check for signs of structural damage to the joists, including mold, rote wood, and other signs that could indicate the structural integrity of the joists or the roof is compromised.
The issue with many mobile homes is that they have smaller roof joists compared to conventional properties. This implies that they cannot simply hold the entire weight of the solar system installation. However, having a strong roof makes it possible to install solar panels for mobile homes.
It would help if you had a permanent foundation.
You have probably seen a conventional home being built. The property builders dig deep into the ground and lay a concrete foundation that offers the property a strong structure. However, manufactured home housing communities are set up differently. They are not permanently embedded into the ground. Instead, they’re placed on top of the ground.
This is not an issue in everyday life. However, with the additional weight of solar panels, most local building codes require that the property (where the solar panels are installed) must be permanently embedded in the ground. While this might not seem like a problem to most Americans, it could make it hard for you to install solar panels for mobile homes.
3. There are places to install solar panels for your mobile home
If you cannot install a solar panel system on your roof, you still have other options. Are there other buildings where you can install the panels? Maybe an outbuilding, garage, or an enclosed patio? The requirements to install solar paneling on these structures as the same as conventional homes – they must be structurally sound, have the right permits, and large enough for your panels.
You may also want to consider a ground mounting solar panel installation. It is possible to set up a structure that is permanently attached to the ground and install your panels on it. Even if you have limited roof size or space, you can still install and use solar panels for mobile homes.
4. Do energy-efficient upgrades
Even if you cannot install many solar panels for mobile homes, you can install several energy-efficient upgrades to your manufactured home. Actually, one of the most effective ways to lower energy-related expenses is to install energy-efficient upgrades. It may be cheaper than installing a capital-intensive solar system.
Most old mobile homes are energy inefficient. Their windows are unsealed and thin, allowing the conditioned air to leak. The walls may be uninsulated. A recent report from the Environmental & Energy Study Institute revealed that mobile homes built before the 1970s are likely to use 1.5 times more energy than conventional homes.
Mobile homes constructed after 1976 adhere to the HUD Code, which means they are much more energy-efficient. Here are some of the upgrades that can boost your property’s energy efficiency.
- Tune up your furnace to ensure it is working properly
- Seal air leaks and furnace ducts
- Ensure the walls are properly insulated
- Install storm windows
- Add insulation into the attic
5. The future of solar panels for mobile homes
Heavy equipment is not the only effective option to install solar power systems on mobile homes. New solar products are being manufactured, and with time, there will be more options that could work well for mobile homes.
You have probably heard about Tesla solar roof tiles made of textured, colored glass with efficient solar cell embedded. They look like roofing shingles and are intended to replace the shingles on your roof. That means these Tesla solar roof tiles are not installed on your roof, they’re the roof. This reduces the weight and cost of roofing and solar panel installation.
Another option solar system option that fits mobile homes is stick-on solar. These panels weigh less compared to traditional panels. They have an adhesive backing that sticks on a roof. Besides, their installation is easy – all you need to do is attach them to your roof. You don’t need an aluminum frame to install solar panels for mobile homes.
It is easy to install solar panels for mobile homes. However, the property must meet the set regulations. So, consult with a local solar company to inspect the structural integrity of your mobile home’s roof before installing a solar power system.
If you cannot install solar panels for mobile homes due to lack of space, consider installing the system in other places such as a patio (enclosed), garage, and an open area with enough space for ground-mounted installations. And don’t forget to upgrade your property’s sealing and insulation.